The term geography was first coined by a Greek scholar Eratosthenes.
The word geography carries basically two Greek terms i.e. ‘geo’ (meaning earth) and ‘graphos’ (meaning description), and the meaning of geography is ‘description of the earth.’
Geography is an interdisciplinary subject as well as it is a discipline of ‘spatial synthesis.’
Richard Hartshorne defines Geography as “Geography is concerned with the description and explanation of the areal differentiation of the earth’s surface.”
Hettner defines Geography as “Geography studies the differences of phenomena usually related in different parts of the earth’s surface.”
Further, the following diagram summarizes the concept of Geography as −
The major approaches to study geography are −
The systematic approach was introduced by a German geographer Alexander Von Humboldt.
On the other hand, the regional approach was also developed by a German geographer namely Karl Ritter; he was a contemporary of Humboldt.
In the systematic approach, first a phenomenon is studied world over as a whole, and then the identification of typologies or spatial patterns is done.
On the other hand, in the regional approach, first the world is divided into regions at different hierarchical levels and then all the geographical phenomena in a particular region are studied.
Because of the different approaches, geography is better known for its dualistic characteristics.
Based on systematic approach, main branches of geography are −
However, Biogeography is the third branch, which is an interface between physical geography and human geography.
Major branches of Physical Geography are − Geomorphology, Climatology, Hydrology, and Soil Geography.
Major branches of Human Geography are − Social/Cultural Geography; Population and Settlement Geography; Historical Geography; Political Geography; and Economic Geography.
Major branches of Biogeography are − Plant Geography, Zoo Geography, Ecology/ecosystem, and Environmental Geography.
Based on Regional Approach, major branches of Geography are −
Besides, there are some branches that study both the approaches. The branches are Geographical Thought, (Philosophy) and Methods and Techniques.
Methods and Techniques include Cartography, Quantitative Techniques/Statistical Techniques, Geo-informatics comprising techniques such as Remote Sensing, GIS, GPS, etc.